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Melissa O'Dell (301) 734-5222
Jerry Redding (202) 720-4623

USDA ALLOWS TOMATO IMPORTS FROM CERTAIN CENTRAL AMERICAN COUNTRIES

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2006--The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service today announced that it is amending its regulations to allow, under certain conditions, the importation of pink and red tomatoes from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama into the United States.

To be eligible for importation, the tomatoes must be grown and packed in APHIS-approved production sites in areas free of the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly). A preharvest inspection of the production site must be conducted by the national plant protection organization (NPPO) of the exporting country and the site must be found free of pea leafminer, a destructive pest of vegetables and flowers; tomato fruit borer, a serious tomato plant pest; and potato spindle tuber viroid, a disease that affects tomato and potato crops. The tomatoes must also be packed in insect-proof containers or covered with insect-proof mesh or plastic tarpaulin during transit to the United States.

In addition, each shipment of tomatoes must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the exporting country’s NPPO with an additional declaration stating that the tomatoes were grown in a Medfly-free area and the shipment was inspected and found free of all pests listed in the requirements. APHIS selected these measures, among others to effectively mitigate the risk of introducing plant pests into the United States.

This final rule is scheduled to be published in the Aug. 28 Federal Register and will become effective upon publication.

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